Vuvuzela: World Cup Horn Trademark?
Before the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, most people outside of the African continent probably had never heard the persistent buzzing of the vuvuzela, a plastic horn that is constantly heard during soccer matches. Announcers and broadcasters have had to make big changes to compensate for the buzz, which apparently generates a sound with decibel levels greater than a chainsaw.
Because of the phenomenon, people across the world, including in the US, have taken to the vuvuzela. In fact, a guy was kicked out of Yankee Stadium the other day because he wouldn’t give up his vuvuzela. Of course as a result of this, people have been registering vuvuzela-related domain names to capitalize on the craze.
These registrants need to be careful of their registrations, as these domain assets could potentially become liabilities for some domain registrants. According to an article in the New York Times, the vuvuzela was created by a man named Neil Van Schalkwyk after seeing a tin trumpet in a soccer match, and in 2001, he created the first plastic vuvuzela, while trademarking the word.
Interestingly, a look into the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) shows a dead trademark for the vuvuzela, which was filed for in 2005 and abandoned in 2008, according the the record.
The battle lines continue to be drawn, and it’s probably only a matter of time before domain names come under scrutiny, perhaps after the 2010 World Cup has finished. With speculation about the horn’s place in the the 2014 World Cup already taking place, this could be a playing field in which domain owners should stay away.
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